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Collier Mosquito Control tackles allegations of health problems from aircraft pesticide leaks

Posted at 6:27 PM, Nov 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 18:27:26-05

A letter written by a whistleblower in October, addressed to the Collier County Mosquito Control District's board of commissioners, sparked an internal investigation into whether faulty equipment and/or procedural oversights may have caused accidental leaks of the pesticide Dibrom over residential areas by one of the district's aircraft. The board met Tuesday to hear the findings by attorney Eric Vasquez.

"This red cap was missing," Vasquez told commissioners, pointing to a photograph of the Dibrom tank on the aircraft in question. "So what you saw was an open reservoir, or open pipe sort of situation."

In the four-and-a-half page letter, the whistleblower claims that health complaints from citizens included "chest pain, burning skin and eyes and other abnormal complaints." It also said residents complained that leaks from the faulty spray equipment may have caused the deaths of geese and goats.

"This letter made me want to vomit," said Patrick Linn, executive director of Collier Mosquito Control. "I have no photographic evidence. No calls from veterinarians, no calls from physicians, no evidence whatsoever that we have done any harm."

"In the over sixty years that we've been here, we've yet to receive any notification from the Florida Department of Health that there's been a documented case of exposure," said Robin King, spokesperson for CCMCD. 

Vasquez said he found no hazardous spill protocols in place at the Mosquito Control District, but Linn disagreed. The internal investigation into improper spraying remains open, pending the outcome of an investigation by Florida's Department of Agriculture, which oversees the district.